2011 Mountain activities
Summer in the mountains has more to offer than athletic activities. You can also opt for a quiet, contemplative vacation. Let your thoughts roam free, open your eyes to the stunning landscapes and observe mountain fauna such as marmots, chamois and ibex.
Contrary to popular belief, a mountain holiday is not necessarily synonymous with physical effort. You can also succumb to « the joy of doing nothing. » Feast your eyes on the dramatic silhouette of the mountains at sunset, comfortably stretched out in a high mountain pasture. A vacation in the mountains means, first and foremost, the possibility to admire the grandiose panorama, accented with crystal-clear lakes, glaciers, pastures, rivers, waterfalls…and finding these little pieces of paradise requires nothing more than taking a few steps from your front door and opening your eyes!
No desire to climb to the summits of the surrounding mountains? Trade in your backpack and hiking boots for a swimsuit and towel! In the French resorts, swimming spots abound, whether you prefer the pool or a small lake near the village, or even right in the centre. And really, working on your tan while admiring Mont Blanc…things could be worse, no?
Even if in the end you decide to go for a hike, note that there are other ways to enjoy this sport apart from gaining maximum altitude in the minimum time. Many mountain guides offer theme outings allowing you to discover the flora and fauna. You can also challenge yourself to learn to recognise the many flowers which grow in the mountain pastures; or learn about their medicinal or culinary value. Outings to observe the animal life are also enjoyable pastimes in the mountains. Predators, such as the bearded vulture, ibex and chamois are the most likely to be sighted. Marmots are also frequently sighted, and will be as pleased to see you as you are them! Note that at certain observation points, particularly the well-frequented animal shelters, you can get nearly close enough to these creatures to touch them! For another way to experience mountain fauna, certain stations propose tours with donkeys or even llamas! These hikes are ideal for kids, who will focus on the contact with the animals to the point where they forget their own physical effort!
At the end of the day, a mountain holiday is far from an athletic competition. It is the opportunity to admire nature in its most pristine form, in an incomparable environment, both for the richness of its flora and fauna and for its stunning landscapes.
Photos : Franck Provost, Philippe Royer.